Lewis Hamilton in the pits during Friday practice at Austin. (Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston) The 34-year-old Mercedes driver, revelling in the return of his regular race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington, clocked a best lap in one minute 33.232 to outpace nearest rival Charles Leclerc of Ferrari by three-tenths of a second. Having spent the morning’s opening session working on set-up variations, Hamilton proved he was back on form with a succession of quick laps in his race simulation run to give himself a great chance of claiming the 2019 title with a sixth victory in eight races at the Circuit of the Americas. Hamilton needs only to finish in the top eight to be champion even if team-mate Valtteri Bottas wins the race. If Bottas fails to win, Hamilton will take the title. Max Verstappen, frustrated in Mexico last weekend, but quickest in opening practice in Austin, was third for Red Bull ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari, Bottas and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull. Pierre Gasly was sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll of Racing Point and Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo. After the chill of opening practice in the morning,… Read full this story
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